In disc golf, you often come across the abbreviation PDGA which stands for "Professional Disc Golf Association". PDGA is the international disc golf association and they are responsible for maintaining the official rules as well as player ratings for disc golf players worldwide.
Disc golf tournaments are often played as PDGA sanctioned, which means that for the tournament you play according to the official rules and guidelines from PDGA. When playing a PDGA tournament, all results are reported to the PDGA and each player receives a PDGA rating. To participate in PDGA tournaments you must be a member of PDGA, which is easy to become and doesn't cost much.
PDGA's rating system can seem a bit complicated once you get acquainted with it and below you will find a description of how it works. It's not something you need to know anything about to play, but when you start to go a little more in depth with your game, it's nice to know a little more about the process.
What is a PDGA rating?
A PDGA rating is a number that says something about the level you play at when you go to a tournament. This is the official rating that all disc golf players receive after playing a PDGA tournament. The rating system can be used to follow the development of your game, and it is also used for many tournaments as a guideline for which division you as a player should register and play in.
As a beginner, you will find that your rating will typically be between 600 and 800. The best players in the world in 2021 are around 1060.
To understand how the rating system works, there are various components you should know:
- A personal PDGA player rating
- A PDGA rating for a sinlge tournament round
How and when is my personal rating updated?
A disc golf player receives a rating for each round he or she has played in PDGA-sanctioned tournaments. These ratings form the basis for the calculation of the player's personal rating. A player's personal rating is calculated on based on the last round a player has completed and all rounds in the last 12 months before that. In the event that a player during that period has played less than 8 rounds in PDGA-sanctioned tournaments, all rounds for the last 24 months are included instead.
Once the PDGA has identified the rounds to be included in the player's rating, the last 25% of the rounds are assigned a higher value so that they count twice. In addition, any rounds that are significantly below the player's rating are removed. "Significantly" is defined by the PDGA as more than 2.5 standard deviations or 100 rating points. In this way, a player's personal PDGA rating is based on all the recent tournament rounds he or she has played, with the exception of any rounds where you have played significantly below your normal level.
The official rating is updated once a month on the second Tuesday of each month.
How is my rating for a single tournament round calculated?
When it comes to calculating the rating for a tournament round, it gets a little complicated. For a tournament, the rating for the individual player's round is calculated in relation to what a theoretical 1000-rated player would score on the round. It is calculated based on how the players at the tournament has performed on the round and their current rating. This theoretical value is called SSA which stands for Scracth Scoring Average. An example of an SSA might be that the theoretical 1000-rated players would complete the round's 18 holes on 55 throws. In that case, the SSA value is 55.
To calculate the SSA value, not all players in the field are included, but only those players who have completed at least 8 PDGA sanctioned tournament rounds. Thus, the scores made by newer players are disregarded when calculating the SSA. It is not described exactly why this is so, but one can guess that it is because new players will typically fluctuate more in their level of play at the first tournaments and therefore their ratings will be a bit unstable in the beginning.
Once the SSA value is found, a value is determined for each throw that a player in the tournament has been better or worse than the SSA. The value of a roll is typically between 8 and 12 rating points per roll. It depends on the day and how much spread there is among the players for the tournament. Once both the SSA of the theoretical 1000-rated players and the rating value per throw have been calculated, the PDGA can determine a rating for all players' rounds of the day.
As an example: The theoretical 1000-rated player uses 55 throws on 18 holes and the value per throw is set at 10 rating points. One player for the tournament has used 60 which is 5 throws more and is therefore awarded a PDGA rating of 950 for the round. The calculation is: 1000 - 5x10 = 950. It can of course also be that a player completes his round on fewer throws than the theoretical 1000-rated players, and then he or she gets a round rating of over 1000.
As it may have become clear, the rating system is a bit complicated and most importantly it is important to say that one does not have to understand it in detail or care very much about it. It all runs automatically when the person in charge of the tournament uploads the results to the PDGA, and you can visit the PDGA's website to see your rating and which rounds have been counted.
The mains points are:
- Your rating is updated everyt second Tuesday of the month
- Your latest tournament round and all rounds for the past 12 months before that is counted - with a few exceptions
- At everyt tournament it is calculated what a theoretical 1000-rated player would be and all players are assigned a round rating in relation to that.